Friday, 14 December 2012

The Express and its 'unmatched, accurate weather updates'

In today's Express, the paper pats itself on the back for its weather coverage. The paper says it has:

a firm reputation for leading the way when it comes to the weather.


we are unmatched on our faithful and accurate weather updates.

And that they are:

oracles of the British weather.

This article was written by Nathan Rao. Many of the Express' weather articles, which often predict apocalyptic spells of cold or heat (usually, one appears days after the other), are also written by Nathan Rao.

For example, on 5 September he wrote about a:

tropical burst of summer could last late into October

It didn't last until late October - it didn't even last five days, as on 10 September Rao was reporting 80mph gales that would 'end [the] heatwave.'

On 7 July, the paper (not Rao this time) claimed: Sorry, there's no might about it...IT WILL RAIN 'TIL SEPTEMBER. Just two weeks later, Rao claimed that Britain would see 'temperatures soaring to 95F next week.'

On 15 June, Rao's story claiming that forecasters did 'not anticipate any significant hot spell until well into September' was splashed on the front page. Ten days later, Rao's story claiming that a 'scorching blast of summer will at last roar in from the Continent this week – sending temperatures to 93F (34C)' was splashed on the front page.

On 22 May, the Express said it would be the 'hottest summer for almost a decade'. On 9 June, this changed to 'worst storms for a decade' and a 'year without summer'.

On 19 April, Rao reported claims that it would be the 'coldest May for 100 years'. In fact, the Met Office revealed at the end of May:

temperature, rainfall and even sunshine are very close to normal....

And that there was:

a run of dry and fine weather, with some remarkably high temperatures. This included a new maximum May temperature for Scotland...

In all, it has been the longest warm spell in May since 1992.

A year ago, on 17 December 2011, the Express' front page headline screamed: 'It's a white Christmas!'. But just four days later, bookies were 'slashing the odds on this Christmas being the warmest on record' and two days after that, the paper admitted: 'It won't be a white Christmas anywhere in the UK'.

In early October 2011, Rao reported that temperatures were to hit -20C 'within weeks'. A month later, he reported a 'big Siberian freeze' will arrive 'with a vengeance...within the next fortnight'. Twelve days later, Rao was reporting that Britain was: 'on track for the warmest November since records began 353 years ago.'

There are many more examples like these. After all, Scott Bryan revealed on 23 August 2012 that since September 2011, the Express had weather stories on the front page 111 times - 52 of them as the main story.

So while the Express may indeed 'lead the way' in the amount of column-inches it devotes to the weather, to claim it is of 'unmatched accuracy' or that they are 'oracles of the British weather' is simply laughable.

* Nathan Rao has his own blog. It reveals he's been a journalist for nine years and includes a section called 'Some of my front pages'. It includes just six examples, all from the Express, one of which is the disgraceful, completely untrue 'Muslim Plot to Kill Pope' article which labelled six innocent men as Islamic terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda.


  1. Well, if they print enough stories, surely one of them will be true!

  2. Now do the same for the Express's predictions of house prices! I'd like to see which is the least accurate, and it'll be a tight race.

  3. Do predictions of extreme weather help to sell newspapers, perhaps?

  4. I think the tabloid press is just mocking its readers, as it works with the 1 per cent to screw them.

  5. Even a stopped clock tells the right time occasionally.

    Isn't this just the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy?

  6. Oh no! The Express has become a self-parodying comedy paper!

  7. I think Nathan Rao is actually a computer program that predicts which headlines will sell the most newspapers, irrespective of truth.

  8. Ha, Nathan Rao has actually responded to this piece on his blog.
    He calls this post 'pointless drivel' but in an act of cowardice doesn't respond directly to the criticism other than to say it makes him laugh.

    If you are reading this Nathan Rao, if you grew up wanting to be a Journalist... you have got a long long way to go yet.

    Quoting Oscar Wilde a intellectual it does not make.

  9. He's posted this story to his blog in some attempt to discredit it (without making any attempt to discredit it) and the comments are brilliant! ha ha ha good work TW x

  10. Let's not forget the Express's endless sourcing of Vantage Weather Services for these non-stories. Look up the Guardian piece on them...


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